Sunning in the Shadow of Death

On an early January morning, at the peak of the little of winter that this city gets, I’m sitting out in the sun on the balcony, at home in Calcutta. I’m cosily dressed in my nightdress, over which I’m wearing a cots wool housecoat, a woollen muffler and there’s also a woollen pair of socks my feet feel smug in. Not that it’s that cold really, but I like the physical and emotional security these warm clothing provides as I tuck into several books stacked beside me – a chapter or two at a time – ranging from Tagore’s ‘my Life’ from his letters; Albert Camus’s ‘The Fall’; to Javier Marias “When I was Mortal’; also Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘Whereabouts’ – over a series of cups of ginger tea, our cook comes up with every now and then, quietly removing the used cup.

The two, year-old cats, Milky and Pizza who have adopted us rather than the other way round, are prancing all around the balcony – stretching, trying to play, after being cooped up in their terrace room, over a blanket, over the night. These brats are always floating on the brink of my attention, whether it’s subconsciously when engrossed in the pages of a book, or tugging at it consciously while shaking and biting up the rug of pink, green and yellow patches at my feet, or the straw mora in front, both of which are placed here for their seating comfort, so as to avoid the chilling marble floor.

Pizza’s making chortling sounds near my feet, while sticking his head and front paws out of the iron grill – grows in intensity. It drives me to get up and curiously peep down over three storeys to the main gate. The Persian Tomcat Dude, who is now four years, often sits at the gate basking in the sun. Pizza is in awe of him, especially of his fluffy large tail that’s always brandished upward behind him. I think it is Pizza’s excitement to go down to join his now independent feline male idol, as my husband is the human one, that is increasing the ferocity of his gut-deep chortles, with the meeker and sly also now wounded brother Milky, quietly chasing his tail, adding to the excited flurry of activity around me. I’ve named them, for their respective penchant for Pizza or anything crusty, and for anything milky or creamy. Their personalities are as distinct as their tastes.

There is however no upraised tail I can see, or one tucked between feline legs for that matter, even as I try to get a glimpse of Dude, who must surely be there. Instead, I catch sight of the back of a partially greyed, women’s head wearing an informal bun. I look closely, at the tall and lean frame standing with her back to our main gate, staring in the direction of the sun. She’s standing there basking in the sun, I surmise, and is rather lapping up the now warm sunshine we are wrapped in, wearing a shawl, with her ankle length night dress visible below it.

I recognise to my sheer surprise, also an inexplicable sentiment as yet – the aged woman as Mrs Bhagat, who lives across my house. I watch for a while, allowing the irony of the situation to sink in, to figure out what she’s doing standing there at this time. Perhaps waiting for her car to turn around at the end of the lane where its much wider, and then pick her up. There’s even an Uber taxi that is turning around right in front of our house now. But she doesn’t get into it, before it revved up and left her standing right in front of our gate. Beside the pillar against which I’ve recently put up a granite slab that names our house after my mother, who left us just eight months back.

Mr and Mrs Bhagat were good friends of my parents right since constructing their house here. And either of them, sometimes both – would visit our home every other day, on a visit to their own construction site to take stock of the progress. On such visits to our house, they sought advice and discussed various building related issues that they faced or might encounter. Then after their house was ready, they often came over to discuss matters of renting a floor or more of their three-story house, which was completed over a period – though they moved in on completion of just the ground floor.

 Mr Bhagat had been a chartered accountant and financial consultant while his wife a teacher in a school. Both were always smartly and impeccably turned out. The wife in a sari crisply pleated, giving an indication of her dynamic personality as she was in addition to being very active, efficient and agile, also one of the few ladies of her time who drove, that too by herself. The husband, I remember well, was always in formal clothes – whether it be a suit and tie in winter, or a crisp formal shirt and tie in summer. And always brought his brief case with him on every visit to our place. They had exposure to all sorts of professional experiences, I’m sure, but what defined their visits to our house was their immense caution on financial matters, from the impending costs of building a large house.

This defining factor of their personality, being exceptionally financially astute, stands them apart from many their age in the neighbourhood, and has driven up with them right to the current old age. This cautious streak, even with all their three children married and well settled now – in the US and in India. Their anxiety over money just doesn’t dissipate or so it would seem. The couple, but more often the husband, is heard haggling with vendors – be they plumbers, carpenters, painters or masons. It could be for nominal amounts to large sums. Everyone at my place knows the man’s voice and bargaining tone rather well by now. Also, he tends to stop or call over any vendor who he sees working at my place. My painting contractor struck a deal with him and also worked with him – to reiterate my opinion on his stinginess.

The wife, is often seen and heard bargaining with the vegetable or fruit vendors for piddly amounts. She even has her personal weighing scales she will bring out to make and then prove her point, whether on the weight of the carrots, beans or apples, oranges and bananas. Then she will offer the vendor an astounding amount of sometimes one-fourth or at times even one-tenth of the price quoted. Then vociferously hold her ground in bargaining with the exasperated vendors.

Just yesterday, I watched with much interest, without her noticing she had an audience – the persistent bargaining of Mrs Bhagat, on her day’s need of vegetables. Which comprised mostly of red carrots in season and so already at the lowest possible prices than year-round. The lengthy bargain ended with a smug, satisfied holding up of the vegetables in a transparent polythene packet on her part. With the exasperated vendor holding up his patience, but not able to hold up the facial expression which was a giveaway. He is one of the few who doesn’t walk past pretending not to hear Mrs Bhagat’s calls from inside the house, as many of them tend to do. Their precious time wasted in arguing over just one sale can be better utilised calling out loud for new and easier customers.

Most of these updates I receive from my cook. As I often get impatient just watching these petty exchanges, but cannot avoid the voice of the man coming right into my house, while I’m reading in the balcony, especially so if I’m on the ground floor. The woman’s voice is more muted, unless I choose to really look upon her exchanges and thereby somewhat gauge the ensuing conversation. The Bhagat’s persistent arguing over anything and everything has become more passionate with their accentuating age, while other neighbours around their age are seen and heard less and less, even if they might not be bed ridden as some are. The aged, I suppose, have evolved into allowing their attention spans taking up spiritually liberating pursuits, handing over properties and money via Wills precisely made, in readiness for their disengagement from worldly ties. While their children or care givers deal with money and all that it can provide them.

Two weeks ago, I had overheard Mr Bhagat loudly bargaining with the coconut tree climber. The conversation, after much running on parallel tracks without the ability to meet anywhere, anytime soon, was lulling out. The vendor quoted Rs. 300, for bringing down the coconuts of one tree, while his prospective client was stuck on Rs. 150. So taking on this opportunity as it seemed godsent, as my two coconut trees that were full of fruit had not been plucked for a while, I asked my cook to promptly engage the man for Rs. 300 before he walked away in exasperation. Though he later charged me Rs 500 on completion. It is increasingly difficult to find, unlike in my mother’s times of needing one, a man in the city – willing or rather having the skills to climb a tall coconut tree and pluck it off the heavy kernels which are difficult to bring down even if descended on ropes.

The man promptly agreed to take on my job, rather than wait for Mr Bhagat to come around and engage him. He was no fool to let pass a sure business while one engaged him in talk only, to finally let the deal pass. Also, several of these service providers, just like this one as I was soon to find out, were at first engaged by my mother in the well over three decades that we lived here. The Bhagats had, as I have mentioned, taken her aide in so many of these household matters including sharing the man who still comes to clean the water filter at both our houses. Just when this coconut man was well into our premises, all set to begin his job giving Mr Bhagat time to decide, he called out to him.

“You come here later, we will finalise this…” he announced almost with an air of scornful finality, “Anyways now you cannot do our house today…”

The man didn’t quite care to understand the meaning of this statement. He already had a business in hand. My cook had politely called the man over to our gate before offering him the task, expecting to have him complete the Bhagat’s job and then come over. So, he attributed Mr Bhagat’s declaration to his own indecision, from an inability to score a good enough deal as yet. But this callous and abrupt statement, came flying into my consciousness like a javelin thrown right into my house, as if to crack the very soil, uproot the two coconut trees about to be fruited. The connection to his declaration that was to my acute revulsion yet again after fifteen years, lay in Death having recently visited my house, barely six months back; taking in its cruel grip my mother.

How could Mr Bhagat allow a whiff of Death that would come from my house to his through the coconut man, to directly or circuitously interface with his house! So what if the woman who it dragged away in moments, as Mother had gone down the whirlpool and was lost from her dynamic life in less than an hour of a heart attack; had advised, guided, offered a variety of help, opening up her home, heart and companionship – when few others in the neighbourhood had – to the minority non-Bengali house owners in a predominantly Bengali locality till two decades ago. She had moreover, rented out one and half floors of our house only to several non-Bengalis in the past three to four decades even though we are rooted in Bengal. As she had worked in Delhi and Gwalior long and concluded that north Indians are much more respectful of elders – in this case her their landlady.

I’m not normally prone to cynicism or undue sensitive insecurity on what the neighbours or the world thinks and would not have come to the conclusion that Mr Bhagat had attributed his not allowing a man to bring in the essence of Death from my home to his if it was not his own emphatic submission sixteen years ago. This was at the death of my father. When almost everyone who knew him had come over to visit us right over his lifeless body, till weeks after, except the Bhagats who lived just across our house.

Even at the personal invitation, via an invitation card offered to them for the thirteenth day Shradh ceremony for dinner, the couple or their three grown children older than us, had not turned up or even offered a telephonic condolence to my mother – not even did they send a stalk of flower – leave alone a wreath or bouquet. They never visited or spoke to us since my father’s passing, though we easily see each other from our respective houses all the time. And in solidarity with Death, and my father who it snatched from us, we made a conscious effort to ensure our shadows did not cross their paths ever since.  

“We couldn’t come to the Shraddha” Mr Bhagat had announced, with a smirk, from his balcony, met with a cold silence by my mother, “As we do not go to any house where death has visited recently.”

Then what is Mrs Bhagat doing at our south facing gate today, I have a good mind to demand of her!  But I don’t – as I would rather put this question up to the world at large! As most people still view death with revulsion – like it were never to come upon them or it’s contagious. Only recently, one of our long time tenants of three decades back, who have practically lived and eaten meals with us for three months then, and brought their four daughters into this world at our house later – as when they first moved in the portion they were to rent was not yet ready but they were in a great hurry to come, proved this so shamelessly.

A few weeks back this lady Meena Sharma, called me to ask me for the name and phone number of a Bengali caterer who we used a few times. After I had visited her a year ago, with the gift of a perfume, when I learned from her husband I ran into on the street, that she had a Cancer surgery – she had lost the attractive face she always had to. Needing the mask not only for covid protection as we all did.

I asked Meena when she called, “why do you need a Bengali caterer?”

She chose not to divulge that her daughter was getting married to a Bengali man in a couple of weeks. I was aware of this from the daughter’s photos on social media, but I chose not to embarrass Meena in reminding her that the death of the woman that prevented her from inviting me, had given her shelter as a daughter – when she had been forced to leave her house with her husband on her mother-in-law’s bidding, and Mother had been more than a mother figure to her whole family for years after.

So, before I end this, I go out to the balcony to put my thoughts on Death into perspective and emotionally let this aspect go – when I look down at my gate again. I see Mrs Bhagat is still standing there, holding up her arms to shield her face from the strong sun – or perhaps subconsciously, from my mother’s scorching presence. As she wouldn’t be standing here if she was alive – consistently stealing slices of our lavish sunshine that God doesn’t bestow on her house in the peak of winter, just as he keeps death away. We’re in turn graciously gifted with both Sunshine and Death.

As Sunshine and Death – are two sides of the coin of Life – one is going to be missing in the absence of the other!

Basking in the sun…

    #lifeanddeath #sunshine #life #death #parents #mother #father #closemindedness #ironyoflife #emotionalstrength #baskinginthesun #lifelessons #spirituality

Thoughts I’m ending 2021 with: Life’s journey.

Over a last walk in Park Street, last evening, I feel relieved that I have crossed what has easily been the worst year of my life – with my chin up and head held high. It was in desperately rowing, under maximum pressure, through the stormiest stretches starting from last January, that I’ve not despaired even when I have found myself all alone in the battles I waged for life – one that I won and even the one I lost. As in looking back at the loss now – I am relieved, as it was an emotional bridge I would have had to cross sooner than later and it’s well over for me now – the loss of my parents.

What makes me happy is the wisdom I’ve collated from all of the experiences I encountered – that at no stage did I ever feel I would like to go back and do things differently. I feel satisfied with the decisions I have had to take. Even if the world may come and try to put me into any number of guilt traps. So this, really, is the root of my self confidence.

To me, success is the ability to live a life without regrets. With the awareness that at any point in time, you have made the best choices under the given circumstances. And you would gladly repeat those mistakes over again if that is what will get you to come out from darkness to Light and live a purposeful life in eradicating some of the prevailing darkness and negativity in the world.
Life, every moment of it – is not a dress rehearsal or a mock drill for the next take or final shoot of your portfolio. It is the ONLY finale you will ever get – so you have to be judiciously discerning. Then it won’t matter what anyone else thinks.
Wisdom lies in garnering strength and courage from each moment, whether good or bad, to carry with you to the choices you would make in the future. There is little, that’s more painful than regrets – other than indecision out of fear that bids you to not make a bold choice when you are faced by the devil or the deep sea.

“It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.”
― Paulo Coelho

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, Whispering ‘it will be happier’.”
― Alfred Lord Tennyson

#yearend #endofyear #lastnight #kolkatadiaries #lifeanddeath #loss #parents #positivity #inspirationalthoughts #kolkata #christmas #positivevibes #newyear2022

PS: sharing more photos of Park Street over Christmas and New Year here: https://www.facebook.com/614624973/posts/10160215676054974/?d=n

In search of my Husband’s Bengali Roots

In search of Bishwanath Ghosh’s roots – ancestral home, my marital home: 200 year old house in Murshidabad.
Let me start my telling you that this hunt was conducted only by knowing the village’s name – Panchtupi, and the name of the current living member – his cousin who is 75 years and in the photos here with his wife in a mauve sari, whom we luckily discovered. We had no address or phone number, or any description of what to expect.

Bishwanath has always claimed to be a Kanpur born and raised probashi Bangali, and all his narratives make that abundantly clear. But to my utter surprise this house in Bengal is 200 years old and was built by his great grandfather, or perhaps his father. All his uncles(jethas) and aunt(pishi) built their own much larger and lavish houses in New Alipore(2 uncles), Lake Gardens(pishi) in Calcutta and even Chandannagar – and they or their children never looked back to see where they came from.
“No one visits here or even calls to find out if it still stands – for decades”, the elderly cousin lamented.
My father in law who built his own home in Kanpur did visit this house with his wife once – when his mother passed away decades ago.
So anyway, that we were coming to Murshidabad – Bishwanath decided to go hunt for the place – as now it’s a ‘Story’🤓
And who knows he might shortly make the place famous in a fresh narrative. As once upon a time it was a place inhabited by Rajas, as locals told me. And the many large sprawling houses I saw in the vicinity of this house with several ponds and plenty of land owned by the family that is now rented out to collaborators for orchards and fishing.
BG is still trying to come to terms with his very authentic Bengali roots, even as he tries to learn Bangla – but skips every class since we returned, as if in sheer rebellion.
🤓His folks are – as we discovered, more Bengali in their dressing and ways including being impeccable hosts and serving us a plate of 6 large mishti each – than most Bengalis I know! 😄

So how did we find the house: Our penchant for photography led us to it.
We arrived in two cars at this Netaji statue with 5 army guys. I was impressed with the patriotism of this small town. And while we were busy doing this photo shoot here, as BG recognised the signboard belonging to the place his father had just mentioned over the telephone, the mishti shop owner in red t shirt and another gentleman watched us in much curiosity. The gentleman was curious as he’s the local photographer and might have been shaken out of his complacency – as to who might have come to usurp his position here!
Anyway, he was narrated the purpose of our photo shoot. He then led us to this exact house in the pictures with lovely flowering trees in front, which is actually quite imposing in real as compared to the photos.
The cousin on the behest of two army men came out groggy eyed and merely nodded at hearing his name but did not admit it was him. With five army personnel and two officially decorated cars and one assertive journalist (BG) questioning him, at 3.30pm, waking him up from sleep – what was he going to assume, but that they might handcuff him soon.
But I recognised his remote resemblance to people in BGs paternal family even though everyone else including my father in law has heads full of hair.
So I blurted, “aren’t you …”
He promptly nodded and allowed destiny take its course on what would happen to him thereon. So then, while his very warm, friendly and lovable but shy wife peeked out of the inner door – BG introduced us. His wife was thrilled to see us and kept calling us inside without herself stepping out.
Shortly a huge number of people collected to watch the show it was, to a quite village. The several portions of land and three pond’s collaborators who all turned out to be muslim, came and verbally embraced us for making the effort to visit this place that no one ever does. In fact they waited long for us to come out just to meet us. Murshibadad has an over 80pct muslim population but are so in tune with the minority – as it’s Bangla that matters here, not religion.
Though the cousin’s wife offered our band of soldiers plates of sweets too, I turned it down, as I didn’t want to burden the elderly couple whose son and his wife and son were out of town. And as a true blue Bengali myself – made it a point to stop again at the initial mishti shop, chat up the family that owned it in their home premises and pack a box full of mishti each for the 5 men in uniform and a larger one for our commander friend, who had sent them all on this expedition with us so that we would be safe.
The previous post was on the return drive.
This write up is an impromptu rough draft after I uploaded these photos – but with the perfect nuances will have to make it to my sequel to “Across Borders” 🤓😁

Bishwanath Ghosh’s Bio:

https://www.google.com/search?q=bishwanath%20ghosh&tbm=

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bishwanath_Ghosh

Pachtupi: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panchthupi

The rest of the photos of this visit are here: https://www.facebook.com/614624973/posts/10159951934369974/?d=n

On the drive back to the military station in Nabagram where we were staying: https://www.facebook.com/614624973/posts/10159951586309974/?d=n

murshidabad #nabagram #militarystation #indianarmybase #indianarmy #insearchofroots #culture #heritage #bengali #bengaliculture #bengalitraditions #westbengal #authorlife #travelwriter #literaryfiction #novelist #indianwriters #bangla #bengali

Terrace to Desk

LITTLE songs and little things come to my mind this morning. 

I seem to be floating on a stream in a boat, passing by the world on both banks.

Every little scene gives a sigh and says,
"I go."

World's pleasure and pain, like brother and sister, lift their pathetic eyes upon my face from afar.

Homely love peeps from her cottage corner to give me her passing glance.

With eager eyes I gaze from my heart's window on to the heart of the world.

And feel that with all its good and bad it is lovable.

— Rabindranath Tagore.

————

‘Terrace to Desk’

I bring them to my desk every morning
to enhance their day’s worth of a life -
as on my terrace by evening they wither
and spend a night falling out and dying.

The beauty they emanate just for a day
is more than I may radiate in my lifetime -
even with honourable inspirations if I try
to infuse empathy and sunshine in words.

The yellow, pink and scarlet hibiscus smile -
yet have a distinctly vivid though crisp life:
As do memories and experiences I weave
into wreaths, with my green ideas on white.

— Shuvashree Chowdhury

PS: I scribbled this and then came across the above poem by Tagore, that sums up my mood so succinctly. 😍🥰

#tagore #rabindranathtagore #tagorepoetry #poetry #poetrylovers #poetrycommunity #poetrysociety #inspiration #flowers #hibiscus #lifecoaching #naturelovers

A Gondola Ride back to Reality: Calcutta Rains



The lake in front of my Calcutta balcony
is a visual treat of nature’s bounty this morning:
a fury, if you make the nightlong deluge to be -
when rains are late in Purulia for harvesting.

My optimism on the rain and this flooding
took an embarrassed beating - in empathising
that my cook Nibaran’s family back home
was as yet in-waiting for the season's blessings.

Yet I set forth to enjoy these precious moments -
sitting out looking at being transported to Venice,
sipping my tea to the music of the wind chime
that’s my company across changes in times.

The birds chirping, crows leading the chorus,
drew my attention to Sun’s rays now warming -
to mentally fetch me back on a Gondola to reality:
As breakfast is served on,“in Purulia it’s raining!”
— Shuvashree Chowdhury

#rainy #rainsongs #poetrtislife #poetry #poetryinspiration #kolkataphotography #purulia #rainsjournal #optimism #positivity #reality #venicedream #gondolaride #venice #beautyofnature #furyofnature #kolkata #kolkataphotography
This afternoon on my terrace …bloomed later in the day
This afternoon on my terrace…late bloomers
Mom and I with the boatman behind, in Kodaikanal Lake …March 2005
The Hoogly in Calcutta…

Sounds of the Rain



The rain splattered on my front porch,
dripping noisily on the mosaic drive -
as leaves shimmered in light through clouds
of steam from my teacup - catching my sight.

Dollops of rain fell from the balcony shed
as the FM radio played into my senses -
trying to arouse in me words that still fail,
after the deluge of soul crushing events.

A medley of sounds, green sights - of rain,
trying to wrench out of my soul a jubilation
to all that once spontaneously broke into song,
but now is numb, shunning human connection.

The cats - Milky & Pizza, look at me squarely;
green eyes demanding their portions of milk -
as slowly in my mind I hear the chirping of birds,
assuring me, after rain words can’t be far behind.

By the time I write this, rain bursts from the sky
that’s leaden and heavy as a drenched sandbag -
with accumulated clouds weighing on my mind:
As rain, words will have to ease my sullen heart.

— Shuvashree Chowdhury

PS — Just scribbled this on my phone sitting on my balcony over tea…with two collections of poems by Kamala Das and Tagore. It’s still raining as I post this…a wet crow is watching me! 🤓

“In the thrill of little leaves I see the air’s invisible dance, and in their glimmering the secret heart-beats of the sky”
— Rabindranath Tagore, FireFlies.

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”
— Rabindranath Tagore, Stray Birds



#aspiration #assurance #beauty #clouds #colour #conviction #inspirational #maturity #sunrise
#kolkatarains #kolkatadiaries #poetrycommunity #clouds #rabindranathtagore #rainyday #rain #inspiration #poetry #poetslife #literaryauthors #literaryauthorsunderstand #indianwriters #poetsofindia

Also sharing below – a fresh review of my book of short stories ‘Existences’ …

It’s so heartening to see that someone, really got the crux of all that you’ve tried to convey – of two decades of working in the corporate world…As a woman, in a patriarchal society, and hold your own!

You may click this post on Instagram below to read the views or I’m copy/pasting it as under …

thebooksocial_ The reputation of an industry is built on the integrity, grit and hard work of its employees. The ones who don’t feature on a magazine cover. They go unnoticed, unapplauded. The female workforce, even more so.

As if dealing with the daily demands of professional life is not enough, as a woman, you have to also put up with prejudices, sexism, pre-conceived notions and unfair expectations. Navigating through it all, keeping intact your own sense of values, judgments, femininity and opinions, is not always easy. It takes strength of mind and character. And this really comes through in this book.

‘Existences’ is a collection of 26 short stories and observations, by @shuvashree_chowdhury , on relationships, perceptions, ethics and such other aspects of human experience that add so much richness and colour to life. Love, friendship, belongingness, ageing, sexual identity, loneliness, grooming, gender equations, she speaks of them as seen and felt as a woman, in a world full of imbalances.

What I liked about the book was the diversity of stories. It was well- written, some of the stories were real page turners. But mostly, it was that strain of optimism that kind of bound all these accounts together, which I really liked. Shuvashree really deserves to be read more. A meaningful book, this one.

The instagram link:

https://instagram.com/thebooksocial_?utm_medium=copy_link

. https://www.instagram.com/p/CR0gZ2iLjwF/?utm_medium=copy_link

#workingwomen #indianliterature #womensupportingwomen #womensempowermentcoach #women #corporateindianwomen #corporateculture #corporateindian

#youthbooks #bookstagram #books #booksubscriptionindia #booksbooksbooks #punebookstagram #bookstack #youthbookscollection


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Leaving Imprints on the Sands of Time



You don’t have to wait to die to be forgotten -
in life it happens a ceaseless number of times;
as you navigate between locations, assignments, institutions or relationships - that fall out of line.

Yet we strive towards leaving noteworthy tracks, whether on mountainous, fluid or grassy paths -
so that a purpose makes the transit worthwhile,
for we know not - whether there’s an afterlife!

In over twelve years since I left my hometown,
after giving my best to three top public services
in the nascent spaces - as yet they’d operated in:
yet on returning, my city asks me for validation.

Twelve years, is long time to be out of circulation,
to those who’ve taken custody of knowing it all
there is to know about a city from textbooks:
yet persistent hobnobbing is their qualification!

The years of services I’ve put in do not count
I’m adjudged - for they didn’t apparently test me
on literary clout, so pseudo-philosophy I’d cast:
As if reading, and practicing writing are enough!

And yet, every step I tread, I still put my utmost,
so the passion with which I execute each task
to conduct my duties and public responsibilities -
catapult me if not to success, to my highest self!

When on a path chosen - you’re sure footed,
which is what leaves deep imprints on the sand:
though you don’t look back seeking your anchor -
yet with it, a traveller who is lost may find his ship.

imprints #sand #inspiration #motivation #purposeinlife #workingwoman #perseverance #poetrycommunity #poetry #indianpoets #selflove #selfassurance #literaryfiction #womensupportingwomen #womensempowermentcoach #selfmotivation

PS: these thoughts arose from sharing the post from my Jet Airways stint on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151068899104974&type=3 and in recalling my stints with ITC Sheraton as reservations incharge for the city’s property pre launch and having the SWOT analysis of every other premium hotel on the back of my hand!
Also Tanishq at a crucial stage of its change from 2003-2006 …this is after corporate sales stints with SITA travels in 1993 and Bank of America in 1995…
and yet I have to validate knowing and being known in my own city! 🤓Chennai never asked me for any such validations to accept me whole heartedly as a poet and literary author!

On Sportsmanship: Milkha Singh.

This evening, after his demise – on TV I was watching these series of old talk shows with ‘Flying Sikh’ Milkha Singh https://g.co/kgs/Jk9Rz1 starting with the one with Karan Thapar.

So many practical and theoretical lifelong teachings on true sportsmanship and values sports instils – by both my parents – came back to mind vividly. It’s two months since my mother’s passing and 15 years since my father left us and after much effort I’m slowly able to move beyond Ma’s passing and feel her eternal presence in varied walks of life.

I can relate easily to these attitudes that sportsmanship inculcates, of which both Milkha and his son Jeev spoke so spontaneously.
As both my parents were serious sports people – even if not in the top leagues like the Singhs. And all our lives, my sister and I were brought up with these values of true sportsmanship. How much we inculcated depended on so many other factors and experiences.
My mother among other things, along with the games/sports she excelled at and coached, followed by her MPhil and Phd; was the hony. secy of the Delhi University sports federation, also jury for swimming and gymnastics at the 1980 Asian Games in Delhi and after several other feathers to her cap, retired as Principal of a teachers training college also specialising in physical education.

My father, a businessman who ran his own printing press, once represented undivided Pakistan for Javelin and Discuss throws: We learned this from his close friend Satya Kaku – when he suddenly started to coach my sister at home after becoming enthused when she’d won the 1sf prize from Hoogly District among other athletics she excelled at. I distinctly remember how we laughted when he asked my sister to get her Discuss and Javelin – that he would show her the best techniques.

We sisters, participated in all school and college sports – especially basketball and won several prizes, though my sister was more champion material than I was, and was one of the rare school sports captains who was truly any good in sports. Most were made sports captains for their academic excellence and it made me quite exasperated back in school that some could barely run to save their lives. Yet looking back, this is what has developed patience, resilience and self confidence to allow people who are not in your league to take centre stage. My sister was school sports day champion too, even though I’d put in all my effort as well and come away with three prizes at least yearly. ☺️

My parents effortlessly carried away the first prize for the parents event at our school sports, after they were literally insisted upon by the teachers and Sisters to participate, much against their wishes – as they knew their real strengths.
Father even played Table Tennis and Volleyball effortlessly till his last years, atleast till about 68-69 years of age – versus the youth (below 30) in our Salt Lake – Calcutta residential block. And had won first prizes at 100 m races along with the youth, as he refused to degrade himself by participating in walking races with his age group of 65 plus.
So yeah, it was lovely to listen to these conversations with and about Milkha and summarise all that my parents taught us lifelong.
I feel blessed and overwhelmed at the opportunity I’ve had to strengthen myself. And I have to admit, that whether in my varied corporate stints or as novelist (800 m – marathon race) or as short stories (akin to 100/200m sprints) writer, also my poetry(Hurdle race) 🤓😛…I have mostly applied my learnings and values from my sports coachings!
My mother sometimes cited examples of Milkha Singh and few others in her attempt to make her points to convince us.
Most things I do today, lead me back to memories of my parents!

Sharing this story link below…was looking for a good writeup I could relate to – as just any depiction doesn’t work for me as the values the man stood for had to be established.
The one I relate best with is – not looking over your shoulder at opponents – has always worked with me since school races.
Incidentally I covered the ‘evergreen’ value factor in a poem I posted yesterday!

https://www.thequint.com/sports/milkha-singh-dead-passes-away-the-milkha-singh-i-had-the-privilege-of-knowing

milkhasingh #milkhasingh🇮🇳 #sportsmanship #sportsmanshipmatters #valuesmatter #values #integrity #evergreen #poetry #prose #prosepoetry #selfassurance #selfawareness #selflove #indianthletics

Evergreen: a Drive through the Rains


‘A Drive through the Rains’

Rain on my window brushes my parched soul
in strokes of incandescent colours of hope -
that I’ll come out of these tribulations - whole,
even after being ravaged by lengthy storms.

The droplets on my windshield blur my vision -
or are they tears from my soul’s melting pot,
in simmering for what seems as if a lifetime:
saving my culmination of rot from disease,loss.

A steady pour it takes to clear this staid air
of toxic woes, debris - poison in the ecosystem
that washes us clean so we may spot little birds
of positivity - taking shelter on window ledges.

They await a right time to fly back to their lives
on trees or sky - after they’ve shed their water loads
and are ready to provide the canopy of security
that will give us much needed reprieve - of hope.

Birds I hear chirping now - impatient with rain -
in uplifting my soul from a living-death before late,
to save myself sinking into a numb unworthiness:
rejuvenating my senses to hear distinct droplets.

My drive with music and slush, cleared garbage
of thoughts I’ve allowed to accumulate as weeds:
so I’ll absorb light in my DNA’s natural chlorophyll
to generate positivity for human photosynthesis!




#rain #rejuvenation #drive #clouds #downpour #kolkata #kolkataphotography #photosynthesis #positivity #inspirational #motivational #selfassurance #poetrylovers #womensempowerment #poetry #saturdayvibes #poetsofindia #selflove #selfcare #selfassurance #evergreen


A drive through my hometown Kolkata, India,

Tribute to my School’s Headmistress

Sr. Andrea was Headmistress –
St. Joseph’s Convent, in the French colony of Chandannagar in West Bengal, India – run by the Sisters Of Cluny…
Founded by Anne Marie Javouhey https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne-Marie_Javouhey

My belated tribute today to Sr. Andrea, my school’s Headmistress, also my English teacher(shared a story below) for several years – who passed away on the 26th of April.
This was exactly five days after my mother had left us on 21st April so suddenly, that this news of Sister following her – came at a time when I was completely numb from shock and grief already, to be able to write anything yet.

Today, the 10th of June is Sr. Andrea’s birthday and I take this opportunity to acknowledge my deepest respect and gratitude for her inspiration and strength since I was at boarding school.
Not even heaven is far enough to make me forget your birthday, Sister. Although you aren’t here to celebrate it with us. I know that you’re getting a birthday serenade from the angels. As all of my life I compared your singing to how the angels might sing in heaven. Sending my best to you and your family today.
Many birthday greetings from all those you left behind on earth. We love and miss you dearly, Sister.

When grief and a kind of insecurity from
loss of your moral support are your inspiration, over and above every other emotion – it is extremely difficult to write what you truly want to say and yet I have been trying hard since the first word of this post.
My mother, being with a teachers training college and getting on so well with Sr Andrea – much to my fear and consternation all through school – both have been the guiding, driving, nurturing and saving factors of my life in so many ways that I cannot even begin to elaborate here.
I have been pushed beyond my endurance many a times as I often thought – by both these women and a few other people in life including teachers and bosses – but today I have to admit I am truly blessed with the values and strength they have thereby inculcated in me. My school character certificate that’s enclosed here – vis a vis the numerous job assignments I’ve handled, also the grit to persevere and never give up are what these two women have gifted me with.
I have been severely penalised and punished in extreme ways by both – also kneeling at Sister’s office all day in view of anyone who passed – when I was in class 9.
All my working life discipline is something I coached, trained and inculcated in others – would they believe I had passed through fire so many times to be able to do that. I’ve elaborated several of these instances in my books Across Borders
and Existences.
Sharing two short stories below:
https://shuvashreechowdhury.com/2015/05/25/when-poetry-and-hymn-merged-in-my-soul-out-of-deadly-fear/

https://shuvashreechowdhury.com/2016/09/20/my-earliest-leadership-training/

My sister and I, in classes 4 & 5 after taking the mandatory yearly passport photographs
My mom

#tribute #school #headmistress #mother #principal #teacher’s training #discipline #grief #loss #empowerment #lifecoach

Sharing the photos of my schools 125th year celebrations in 2011, in this link: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150120085269974&type=3